For some people, yesterday was all about the Super Bowl. For me, it was about a better match-up, one of the best and most dramatic Smash Bros. matches I've ever seen.
To tell the story of Sunday's amazing match, we have to go back a day further, to Saturday and the Apex 2015 tournament, the biggest Smash Bros. competition ever. The multi-day competition, which was held in New Jersey, hosted a special segment where players could take on money matches against each other. It's called "Salty Suite." Players were allowed and even encouraged to talk as much shit as they wanted before matches started.
One of the matches planned for the night was between players called "Leffen"and "Chillindude." Leffen, a svelte player from Sweden who mains Fox, is a "heel." In other words, he's often considered the villain of the pro Smash Bros. community, thanks to infamous incidents where he has displayed bad sportsmanship—at one point, he was banned from all tournaments in Sweden because of bad behavior. Leffen is a shit-talker who often makes fun of his opponents. He likes to humiliate people he doesn't think are worthy. He looks like this, if you're curious.
Chillindude, on the other hand, is considered a good guy by the Smash community. On the competitive Smash Bros. Wikipedia page, Chillin is described as the "father" of sorts to people who main Fox in Melee, and as such many Fox combos and moves are named after him.
You can tell the community regards him highly, too. A few APEX spectators were carrying around a giant version of Chillin's face at the tournament.
Being beloved, however, didn't save Chillin.
Before the match started, viewers were brought up-to-date with the storyline that brought the match into fruition. Basically, it all started because of catty tweets. Here's Leffen, dissing Chillindude:
Chillindude's response? To tell Leffen to respect his elders...and he also gave Leffen a challenge:
As Chillin proposed, the Salty Suite match would be a Fox versus Fox match. The stakes would be high: the loser couldn't choose the standard, classic Fox skin in a tournament from that day forward. Ever.
"It's going to be 5-o," Leffen promised in a video that played before the match. According to Leffen, Leffen was going to destroy Chillindude so hard, Chillindude wouldn't even win a single match in their set. "I really wish he would have more of a shot, so I could tear him up as a goal, and practice really hard," Leffen continued. "I wish that was the case."
It was a video meant to stir up hype. But, it wasn't the only thing that played before the match. Chillindude decided that, instead of trash-talking the old-fashioned way, he was going to rap all his grievances with Leffen out. And so he created a diss track about Leffen, which played right before the match started. You can listen to it here:
Then, the match ensued. You can watch it in this video uploaded by VGBootCamp—it starts around the 1:19:42 mark:
To be clear, this wasn't a great match. This isn't the one I really want you to know about. But it was important. It was a prelude.http://youtu.be/XtjLb84i-Tw
At first, things looked promising for the "good" guy. Chillin scored the first kill, and he seemed to keep up with Leffen. And then Leffen started playing for real. You can tell, too. Around the 10:20 mark, Leffen started smiling and laughing devilishly at things that were going in his favor. He went on to win the first match, and his reaction was typical Leffen:
The second match was close, with both players trading stocks right after each other, but Leffen still took the win. You can guess his reaction.
Chillin, meanwhile, was starting to feel the pressure. You could see it in his face.
The giant Chillin sign in the background probably didn't help—whenever the camera turned to the players, it looked like the sign was looking down at Chillin disapprovingly.
"I'm demoralized by this right now," one of the announcers remarked during the match. "And I'm not playing." The commentators said Chillin should take down the diss video from YouTube. It was just too embarrassing given how the match was going, they said.
Leffen then absolutely destroyed Chillin in the rest of the matches. Chillin couldn't win a single one. And in between every match, Leffen would just laugh at Chillin. Chillin's stressed face became a Twitter meme:
But then! Something amazing happened. Instead of having things end there, another top player came up to the stage to stand up for Chillin. Known as "Mang0," and also well-loved by the community, he's the guy on the left here:
"This man, I went to his country, and he beat me," Mang0 said, in reference to the Swedish Leffen. "But, you come to my country, and you beat my man five-oh? If we play in bracket, we're gonna put one-thousand on it." That's $1,000. Leffen agreed to it, and they shook hands. In response, the crowd stood up and chanted "USA, USA, USA!"
Later that night, Leffen couldn't help but remark on the day's events on Twitter...
This was APEX day 2. On day 3, it was unquestionable that the potential Mang0 versus Leffen match was the most anticipated of the night. Spectators were more concerned about whether or not those two would face off than who would win Apex 2015, which, remember, wasthe biggest Smash Bros. tournament in history They couldn't just agree to fight. They had to wind up in the same bracket.
While I was at the tournament, people kept close tabs on both players, unsure of whether or not the redemption match would happen. For a while, people didn't think it would. Leffen would have to come out on top in matches that weren't in his favor. He would have to beat people that were considered "gods" by the Smash Bros. community. But then he surprised everyone by moving forward in his bracket—and Mang0 did, too. While people often rooted against Leffen during his matches, they cheered when it was clear he would in fact go on to face Mang0. The match that ensued between the two rivals is one for the Smash Bros. history books, and one that I feel very lucky to have seen in person. You can watch it in this Twitch stream by VGBootCamp, at around the 14:36:21:
Mang0 was maining Falco, and Leffen was maining Fox. Most people at the tournament were rooting for Mang0—and you can hear that in the match, too. The crowd couldn't stop chanting "USA, USA, USA." It was deafening. The room felt like it was shaking.
The first match was intense, with both players giving it their all. You could tell, too. Unlike the match with Chillin, Leffen was serious throughout the entire thing. He was clearly trying to focus and win.
At first, they seemed evenly matched—this is something that surprised many spectators, since Mang0 was widely considered to be better than Leffen. To wit: people betting on the players at the venue had a hard time finding people vouching for Leffen. Everyone wanted to bet Mang0. Regardless, Leffen held his own in the first match. Rare was the moment when the two didn't have the same number of stocks, and any kills were matched by the other player, evening things out. The first match was close, thanks to aggressive plays by both men. The last stock of this first match was particularly tense, as Mang0 juggled Leffen off the stage for a while—only to have Leffen fight back and kill Mang0 unexpectedly.
The second match carried the same intense pace, though you can see players whiff a little more, likely thanks to continued pressure. Leffen started tilting the scales in this match, sometimes enjoying an entire stock or two over Mang0. Mang0's "assured" victory started looking a little less certain at this point. "Mang0's definitely going to have to mix it up," one of the commentators opined. The crowd, trying to be supportive, kept screaming USA! USA! USA! for Mang0. Still, Mang0 faltered, and had trouble coming back onto the stage for the last two stocks. Leffen was killing it, even if nobody was cheering for him.
As if trying to rewrite history, Mang0 repicked the Yoshi's Story stage for the third match. It's a small stage that favors aggression, and Mang0 seemed to be packing a lot of it. Most of the damage at the start comes from Mang0, who seemed intent on landing as many combos and hits as he could. Leffen seemed to be playing more defensively at the start. Regardless, Leffen spikes Mang0 down off the stage for the first stock. Mang0 does manage to spike Leffen back, and eventually he found himself in an intense one-stock-versus-one stock match. The possibility of a comeback tantalized the crowd, and they went wild. "Mang0 looking super flustered right now," one of the commentators noticed. When $1,000 were on the line, of course that's his response: he wasn't just trying to put a rival back in his place, or to defend Chillin's honor. He was trying to keep his cash in his pocket! And so Mang0 did manage to win that one match.
In the fourth match, Leffen seemed to have Mang0's number. Leffen got the first kill, and even pulled off a few choice chaingrabs. Eventually, Leffen managed to spike Mang0 once more. "Dude….DUDE!" one of the commentators said in response. "Oh my god!" In this match, there's even a few moment when both the characters "clang"—that is, they hit each other in the exact same way, nullifying damage for both of them. It was some DBZ-level shit. While Leffen enjoyed a healthy lead for most of the match, Mang0 managed to bring it down to one stock for both of the players—and for a second, there was a sliver of hope that Mang0 could turn it around, and maybe win a second match. While Mang0 was at over a hundred percent damage—meaning he could be vaulted off the stage with ease—comebacks like that weren't unheard of. Plus, Mang0 was considered a god, remember? If anyone could pull it off, it would be him. "If he does this, he's the best," one of the commentators said, hoping for the best.
But he didn't. Instead, Leffen took the win. And, despite being despised by some, the crowd responded with cheers: they had just witnessed an exceptional match between two of the greatest players around.
What made this match stand out wasn't just the top-level play. It was the hype, the storyline and the rivalries leading up to it. The crowd was just as interested in the people playing the matches as the matches themselves. That the "bad guy" went on to win—and then came in third in the tournament overall—only made things more interesting.
Though it upset some people, it was a good thing that the crowd favorite in the Chillin or Mang0 matches didn't go on to win. We wouldn't have had the pleasure to watch one of the best Smash Bros. matches in history otherwise.
Update: this post did not originally credit the streamers that uploaded the matches. We apologize for the mistake.
Additionally, we originally took screenshots from the Salty Suite stream, which featured a video produced by Jason Durso. We've added credit to Durso's portion of the Salty Suite stream.